Last week I gave a few tips on how aspirant leaders can prepare themselves for a leadership role in meetings. Great feedback, thanks, so now I will share some pointers on how to prepare and train your team for more productive meeting.
Consider your usage of an agenda. It should be disseminated with a request for any other items to be added, instead of just winging it and including them under General on the day. It encourages people to read the minutes and make a note of anything that they wish to include under Matters Arising, or under a particular heading. The Agenda must be circulated well in advance so that there are no excuses for tardiness.
When you send a meeting request clarify the venue plus a start and finish time. State who will be chairing the meeting and exactly what you wish the outcomes of the meeting to be. If you require specific information to be brought to the meeting, inform the relevant people.
Illustrate that time is money. This is easier if you are selling a service, as employees then understand that each hour freed of meetings is more billable time. Efficiency equals productivity. Consider the difference between productivity and activity. Meetings should be outcomes-based, and each item on the agenda should have a value and an anticipated result.
Less is more. It is better to limit the number of people. It makes for a more manageable meeting and the fewer the people, the shorter the meeting. Make sure that you have a designated minute-taker, and that they are aware of what your expectations are. Do you need decision makers? Perhaps better for the more strategic or senior people to come to the first meeting, and operational people to follow-up meetings.
Meetings should be about action, not talk. They are a decision-making forum, not just a space for sharing information. Sometimes it is helpful to suggest an action plan with timelines rather than formal minutes. Each individual should be responsible for actioning their plan and for reporting back on it.
Many people like to use laptops, tablets and telephones to take notes – ensure that they are on silent and not being used for clearing emails. If they are it is because the chair is allowing it, or the meeting is boring!
Never allow yourself to be described as someone who attends meetings. Rather be known as the leader who manages them with authority and clout, and meets (and exceeds) expectations.
My favourite tip – comfortable chairs are good but they must never be too comfortable!